Marinated Fresh Tomato Sauce

published Jul 15, 2021
summer
Marinated Fresh Tomato Sauce

Made with fresh tomato pulp marinated in oil, garlic, and basil, this simple sauce is a quintessence of the Italian summer.

Serves4

Prep1 hour 10 minutes

Cook20 minutes

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Tomato Sauce in a mason jar
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Ben Weiner

This sauce — a quintessence of the Italian summer — is drawn from my family repertoire. In the summers, with the abundance and variety of tomatoes from our vegetable gardens, we would turn all our San Marzanos into sauce. We produced two types: passata (perfect for canning and storing away), and this fresh, chunky sauce, which we would call sugo di pomodoro fresco and eat immediately, often with pasta. It’s a hymn to Italy’s much-loved summer flavors in all their glorious brightness and simplicity.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Ben Weiner

What Are the Best Tomatoes to Use?

Making this sauce is easy: Finely chopped peeled fresh tomatoes are infused with lots of garlic, basil for brightness, and some good olive oil to bring it all together. Because there are so few ingredients, it’s important that you use very ripe, flavorful tomatoes and the best oil you can find.

While I prefer to use San Marzano tomatoes, which are in season in mid- to late-July, any very ripe, very red pear-shaped tomato will do. Plum tomatoes or Piccadilly tomatoes, which are native to southern Italy, are both good options. Skip large heirloom tomatoes, which will likely release too much juice in the marinating process.

5 Delicious Ways to Put This Sauce to Use

I make this sauce over and over again when tomatoes are in season. Here are five great ways to enjoy it.

  1. For a super-speedy (and super-summery) dinner, toss the sauce with freshly cooked pasta and some of the starchy pasta cooking water.
  2. Spread it onto lightly toasted bruschetta — it’s even better if the bread is grilled.
  3. Serve with pillowy focaccia to mop up the heavenly juices.
  4. Spoon it onto grilled steak, chicken, or fish, or pile into shallow bowls and top with grilled shrimp or scallops.
  5. Toss with white beans for a satisfying vegetarian lunch.

Marinated Fresh Tomato Sauce

Made with fresh tomato pulp marinated in oil, garlic, and basil, this simple sauce is a quintessence of the Italian summer.

Prep time 1 hour 10 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 pounds

    San Marzano, Piccadilly, or plum tomatoes

  • 4 to 6 cloves

    garlic

  • 10 to 12

    fresh basil leaves

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 3 tablespoons

    extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Meanwhile, score 2 1/4 pounds plum tomatoes by cutting through the skin lengthwise from stem end to the other end, scoring each tomato in 4 places. Place in a large heatproof bowl.

  2. When the water is boiling, pour over the tomatoes and let sit 1 minute. Drain off the hot water and add cold water to the bowl until the tomatoes are covered. Peel the tomatoes; the skins should slip off easily with a paring knife.

  3. Halve the tomatoes and scoop out the seeds. Finely dice the tomatoes and place in a colander set over a large bowl. Thinly slice 4 to 6 garlic cloves. Roughly tear 10 to 12 fresh basil leaves. Add the garlic and basil to the tomatoes, season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and toss to combine. Cover and let sit for about 1 hour.

  4. Transfer the drained sauce to another bowl. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and toss to combine. The sauce is now ready to be tossed with cooked pasta (cook 12 ounces dried pasta), or used as a topping for bruschetta or focaccia.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The sauce can be made up to 1 day ahead (without the basil) and refrigerated. Add the basil and let sit out at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 day.